MARIETTA, OH–The beautiful diversity of America is comprised of cultures from around the globe. It’s the foundation of our country and what makes us great. It’s also a principle embraced and practiced on the campus of Washington State Community College (WSCC). In fact, the college was all abuzz at the announcement that its Director of E-Learning, Ziad Akir, who came to the United States more than three decades ago, was recently able to solidify his place in the metaphoric melting pot by becoming a US citizen.
Akir is a man of the world—he was born a Jordanian citizen, raised in Palestine, and in 1984, immigrated to the US at the age of 18 to go to college. After earning his Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio University, he move to Southeast Asia for a job in Malaysia. But the sweet siren call of Lady Liberty, beckoned to him and he returned to the US in 2001 to further his education.
After earning his Ph.D. in Communications at OU, he exchanged his student visa for a working visa and began his career in higher education with Western Illinois University. But in 2007, when WSCC offered him a faculty position, he couldn’t resist the allure to return to the beautiful state of Ohio.
Shortly after he established himself in his position at WSCC, Akir began working with campus officials to help him secure US Permanent Residency. This was the first step in a very long process of working toward his citizenship. “I have planned the entire journey step-by-step,” said Akir.
As Akir quickly made himself essential to the college, WSCC officials were more than happy to help him with his dreams of becoming an American citizen. “Dr. Akir is a great asset to Washington State Community College,” said Mark Nutter, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “We are pleased to have been part of his path to citizenship.”
In early 2016 Akir met the requirement of maintaining Permanent Residency for at least five years, and was then able to apply for naturalization. The decision to become a citizen was an easy one for Akir. “I’ve always felt I belong to this country. I have spent more than half of my life in the US,” he confessed. “I think and communicate in English better and faster than thinking or communicating in my own native language of Arabic.” He also admits return visits to his homeland results in reverse culture shock– the psychological, emotional and cultural experience of returning to one’s home country.
Earlier this year, he was contacted by government officials and granted an immigration interview. This is the final step in the process. An applicant’s fate is determined at this meeting and Akir’s fate was to be granted naturalization. During the interview the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services officer gave high praise to Akir. “He said my qualifications and character are my assets,” he recalled.
Akir took his Oath of Allegiance at the US District Court in Charleston, WV, on May 1, 2017 with 70 other people from 31 countries across the globe.
“Being an American citizen means one additional ingredient in the melting pot that makes up this nation. It means I will continue to add richness to the cultural diversity of our community here in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Akir said proudly.
For more than 45 years, Washington State Community College has fueled the community’s future through education. We work to make a positive impact by providing opportunities for growth. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to enrich your life, we cultivate pathways to guide you toward future growth. Be inspired. Be WSCC. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.